A few weeks ago I was introduced to the work of Edinburgh artist Dodo Flugge of diedododa, and I immediately connected with her collection of Botanical Alphabet prints. I’ve long been an admirer of vintage botanical illustrations, so this particular collection from Dodo, which was inspired by her fascination with botany, was bound to resonate, but interestingly Dodo has combined her delicate botanical drawings with bold typography to create this striking range of prints.
Self-taught artist Dodo creates a unique and ever-changing selection of prints, cards and accessories using a variety of mediums, and her work is diverse, from detailed ink drawings such as the Ink Birds collection to Exotic Bird Paintings to the graphic juxtapositions of The Three Graces. I caught up with Dodo to ask about her work and specifically the inspiration behind the Botanical Alphabet prints.
Tell us a bit about your background as an artist.
“I grew up in the German countryside surrounded by nature and animals. As far back as I can remember, there has never been a time in my life when I didn’t draw or paint. I am entirely self-taught, through the writings and visual works of iconic artists such as Kandinsky, Caravaggio, da Vinci and Picasso to name just a few.”
Tell us a little bit about where you work.
“I live and work in Edinburgh where I work mostly from my flat for the not-so-messy things like drawings, collages and digital art. I also have a studio in Newington where I work on larger paintings and the occasional piece of furniture.”
Where did the concept come from for these Botanical Alphabet prints?
“Botany has fascinated me since childhood and it’s a theme that keeps resurfacing in my work. I have started several botanical alphabets before, but never finished them because they never felt quite right. I wanted to create something that is modern and colourful, yet at the same time showcases vintage botanical illustrations as well as my own drawings. I deeply admire the early botanical illustrations by the German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian. (There is a great exhibition of her butterfly studies on show at the The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, until July 23.)
I am also fascinated by Victorian floriography, also known as ‘the language of flowers’, in which certain flowers and plants conveyed coded messages from the sender to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feeling which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society.”
How did you choose which plants and flowers to feature?
“Each plant or flower featured starts with the letter it represents, so B for blueberry, C for cherry and so on. Admittedly it got a little difficult at X, which is Xerochrysum, more commonly known as strawflower!
Mostly, the plants and flowers that are featured are the ones that remind me of where I grew up and/or are my favourites that start with that letter. So, while Quince, Lupine and Ivy might not be the most obvious or most decorative choice, they were still the plants I preferred to use.”
How did you create each print?
“Each one is a mixed media, consisting of an element of an original ink on paper illustration drawing by me, a hand drawn and digitally coloured letter, as well as cut-out parts of vintage botanical illustrations.”
How did you decide on the colour combinations?
“The combinations were largely reliant on the overall colour of the plant or flower, or simply what felt instinctively right with them.”
Do you have any favourites and, if so, why?
“That’s a tough one, but I would have to say C for cherry. I had a little cherry tree when I was very young, which had beautiful blossom in spring and actual cherries in summer. And T for Tulip – tulips have been my favourite flower for a while now.”
With thanks to Dodo Flugge.
See the Botanical Alphabet prints here.
See the full collection of prints at diedododa.